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Teaching About Democracy in the Middle East

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Beginning in the spring of 2006, Street Law materials on democracy will be taught throughout the Middle East.  Community leaders will use the recently completed Arabic-language text Islam and Democracy: Towards Effective Citizenship, to teach grassroots audiences in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. 

Street Law’s international programs, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, have spent the past eighteen months working intensively with community and NGO leaders in the Middle East on developing and distributing materials that link the concepts of democracy to Islamic principles.  Although in the past many in the Arab world have seen democracy as a system foreign to their own culture, increasingly people are pointing to ideas and historical traditions in Islam that support democratic principles, such as shura, or consultative decision making.

The book was adapted by eight Arab writers – two each from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco – from the Democracy for All text that Street Law developed in South Africa fifteen years ago.  There have subsequently been adaptations of Democracy for All  in Haiti, the Czech Republic and Russia.

Street Law and CSID have introduced the materials to NGOs, youth, and religious and community leaders in each of the participating Arab countries, and have trained them in how to teach the materials in their communities.  In the course of the next six months, these leaders will conduct classes with their constituencies, eventually reaching 2,000 people in each of the four countries.